Song A Day: The Album

by Jonathan Mann

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about

I first became aware of Jonathan Mann during my freshman college orientation, where an entire weekend of bonding activities culminated in a large, school-sanctioned bonfire. The blend of crisp autumn air, crackling flames and awkward small-talk between 18-year-olds made for a rather placid evening...Until the musical entertainment began. It was Jonathan, wearing nothing but an acoustic guitar. I wasn't sure if this nude troubadour was officially ordained by the school as well, but it certainly made an impression on me. We would eventually meet and consequently write, record and stage a dystopian rock opera together.

Ten years later Jonathan has remained a close friend and constant inspiration. He has that most enviable quality in that songs just seem to pour out of him. Working with him is a delight (but also difficult to keep up) because of the rate at which he churns out words, ideas, and hooks. It's also easy to feel a bit unproductive when looking at his output. At the end of the year he will have 365 songs under his belt when I have...Oh...I don't know...maybe 12? Actually more like 10 and a half. Now, I realize that a lot of work goes into song-a-day but Jonathan does it with such aplomb it seems effortless. If he was around at the turn of the century he'd be working in Tin Pan Alley. 50 years ago you'd find him in the Brill Building. But today he is a venerable one-man song factory.

Needless to say I was excited and flattered when he invited me to (temporarily) work in his factory, an attempt to bring his grand songwriting experiment to a new level with the powers of collaboration. Aside from myself, the core group consisted of Nick Krill and Matt Payne. Nick is another best friend and longtime musical partner. His ears can hear things that most dogs and small children can't. He brought with him a wide sonic palette and thus was in charge of the engineering, mixing, and production elements. Nick also jumped on any opportunity he could to get behind the drum kit and lay down a tasty, tasty beat. Matt Payne is somewhat of an instrument tamer. His knack for arrangement, electronics and brazen ambition allow him to charm any instrument, from a bass harmonica to a Nintendo Entertainment System. His arrangements were grains of concentrated beauty which he generously sprinkled on the tracks. Besides the four of us there was a rotating cast of musicians lending their talents on location or via the internet. There are too many wonderful people to describe in detail, but their wide array of contribution was essential to the magic of the album. The people informed the songs and the songs informed the people.

Now, spending a month in Berkeley making music with some of your best friends may sound like a dream job...And it was. But it was also the most unrelenting, regimented schedule I've been on in my entire life. No breaks; The song always takes precedence over the sleep and sanity of its servants. But I am proud to have served Jonathan and the 30 songs that came out of him during this time.

-Thomas Hughes, August 2011

credits

released 28 September 2011

All songs by Jonathan Mann
For a list of players visit: bit.ly/sadjune
Recorded by Nick Krill at The Famous House
String and horn arrangements by Matt Payne
Produced by Thomas Hughes, Nick Krill and Jonathan Mann
Mixed by Nick Krill at The Garden Center
Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering

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Track Name: Fold Into Yourself
one thing sometimes seems like another
upon close inspection
a curse is a blessing
so you fold into yourself

sometimes you just got no idea
the meaning seems hidden
but really it isn't
so you fold into yourself

you search in the faces of the people you know
you feel like Magellan
but their faces aren't telling
so you fold into yourself

you think maybe you'll find it some place exotic
in an old elevator
or in a dinosaur crater
so you fold into yourself

you start to get worried, you start to panic
you let out your breath
and use what's left
to fold into yourself

but you wake from a dream all groggy confused
and the hand that you're holding
means you are unfolding

you found it in yourself
it was small and insecure
but it begins to grow
and the doubts get fewer and fewer
Track Name: Are You A Real Peson?
1s and 0s burned and broken
do you or do you not exist
i will accept you with arms wide open
but if you're fake I will feel foolish

you're friends with my friends
but that is not conclusive
i try to verify you but you are elusive
little bit arranged in rows and rows just so
now i am obsessed and i simply must know

ohhh ohhh are you a real person?

flesh and bone is less deceiving
i don't need a turing test
if can touch you and feel you breathing
hear your heart beating in your chest

i don't know what your motivation might be
when you look my way and you decide to friend me
far be it from me to disrupt the status quo
now i am obsessed and i simply must know

ohhhh ohhh are you a real person?

if you're real just say so
if we knew each other long ago
if you're someone that i really know
if you're real, well then hello!
Track Name: Sweaty Girlfriend
we ride our ride our bikes down summer streets
the world is sun and the world is heat
when we get home we are covered in sweat
but i don't want to shower just yet

sweaty girlfriend, sweaty girlfriend
i am attracted to your scent
no, not yet don't take a shower
i'm drawn into your body's power

she comes home in her yoga pants
when she walks by i'm in a yoga trance
she's heading for the shower now
i jump up and tackle her to the ground

CHORUS

SOLO

Now we're in New York paying subway fares
And walking up 10 flights of stairs
The city heat makes you collapse
Let's find a bed and take New York naps

VERSE
Track Name: Three Day Reign
First, I was supposed to be king
Then, I was the last of my kind
Now I'm not anything
Just another soul with with nowhere to go and too much time

I was gonna be king, maybe praised and applauded
I was gonna be king and love who I wanted
She was everything but I was denied
And so they had to die

Vaguely aware of the rules they set
I was so used to getting my way
Some ancestor was full of regret
A forgotten father turning his grave

And so they took her away and told me to forget her
And they brought me another as if that would make it better
They couldn't be reasoned lord knows I tried
And so they had to die

And so one evening at dinner
I excused myself
We had company over
Cousins and uncles and everyone else
I went up to my room grabbed my m16 then when dinner was done n
I walked calmly back downstairs and I killed everyone

I was supposed to be king
And I was for three whole days
Now I'm not anything
A brief, forgotten king turning in his grave

The shots rang out and the bodies fell and I wanted to be sure
That everyone knew that I was doing it for her
It was clear to me by the look in their eyes
And so they had to die
Track Name: I Hate Being Alone
Everybody dies alone
from the still born baby to the man full grown
and I hate being alone
it drives me totally nuts
i hate it down to my bones
I hate it down in my guts
I hate being alone
I used to make my mom call my friends on the telephone
But sometimes no one was free
And then it would be me me me me

Everybody dies alone
but the consequences of this may be slightly
over blown
modern science doesn't know
and religion just forget it
no one knows where you go
when you breathe your final breath it means

no one knows where you go
could be a big empty room or a loud crowded rock show
you die alone, oh yes
but a second after that is anyone's guess

some people are comfortable seeing movies by themselves
or going to a restaurant table for one they don't need anyone else
they're fine just watching TV or drinking a beer at home
but not me, i'm terrified, man i hate being alone

what's so bad about me?
Track Name: Mix Scalp Genius
i got a poison swirling mind that sings
a hundred sweet evil melodies when the hour bell rings
you're always wrong except when you're not
you write a song and you're stirring the pot

i got a whirlpool brain draggin' me down
a million 5 ton memories makin' sure that i drown
you're always wrong and then you're always surprised
when reality comes and you realize

that it's something wrong in the way you think
in the wires crossed and burned
and you're laying there always on the brink
of a brain that's overturned
don't just lead yourself
into a state of doubt
don't believe yourself
when you're not telling the truth

i got some good ideas that turn to salt
when i confront what's real the mad gestalt
you're getting crazier with each pasting thought
don't try to hide it when you're stirring the pot

i got a bed that swallows me at night
and then i'm almost the same but not quite
you're always taking the long way around
you're always making the same damn sounds
Track Name: Happy Asexual Reproduction Day
to all the organisms that reproduce asexually
this ones for you
you don't have a mother
you don't have a father
you are a clone it's like you are your own brother

it's father's day
but i'd like to say
happy asexual reproduction day

maybe you're some bacteria living in the bottom of a lake
with all your friends
you eat stuff down there
and decompose it for us
you've got close relatives up shore in the forest
it's father's day
but i'd like to say
happy asexual reproduction day

or you're Kentucky bluegrass
growing in lawns across america
doing your apomixis
lots of blackberries
the yummy fruity treat
you've got no parents and you're so fun to eat
Track Name: A Mighty Fine Price
could i interest you in a hand made watch marked 1864?
it belonged to a boy who was drowned in a river in the middle of a civil war
they say it brings beauty to the bearer
because of all the mud in the river
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price a mighty fine price indeed

i've got this gold grandfather clock from the 16th century
it keeps the time with the rhythm in your mind comes with a guarantee:
if you're not completely satisfied
you can bring it back when your first born dies
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price a mighty fine price indeed

maybe you'd like this burnt up kite it belonged to benjamin frank
it was given to me by a horny old man who worked for the World Bank
it attracts good luck at the slightest touch
but is dangerous when it's used too much
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

how about this printing press that can only print one thing
a manifesto of simpler times of man and god and king
the writer had 40 wives 20 sons and a burning need
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

oh i see you've found the bicycle that Che Guevara rode
dust it off, take her out and the tires will explode
they contain the memories
of every road that they ever have seen
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

here's a necklace that belonged to Catherine The Great
I found it on the 7th floor of the empire state
they say it talks to you at night in a voice like a warbling reed
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

have you SEEN this pistol that ONly shoots green ARrows tipped with blood
the ARrows make the STRUCK mistake their WOUNDed pride with love
love in it's purest form
that keeps the wounded safe and warm
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

have a look through this magnifying glass and you will see
everything that ever was and all that's yet to be
you'd be a fool to refuse this tool
stare INto the eyes of the minuscule
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

do you have any kids cause if you did i've got rows and rows of toys
melancholy soldier men and race cars for the boys
your girls will enjoy my flavored marble covered seeds
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

this mystery box contains a taste of something so unique
if you Open it before it's due you won't see or hear or speak
you won't know if it's good or hurts
you'll be in another universe
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

what about this realistic golden goose that flies?
with WINGS that flap and gem diamond ruby opal eyes
the eggs it lays are edible but of the normal size
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed

before you leave, one final thing, i save the last for best
i can tell you're not impressed by trinkets or the rest
a human soul wrapped in a jacket polyester tweed
and i'll sell it to you for a mighty fine price, a mighty fine price indeed
Track Name: Broken Brown Elderberry
if the earth were to open up
and swallow me whole
then spit me out onto the ice
down on the north pole
i'd pitch a tent and strike a match
and burn my way through the ice
a body's mostly water
and snow is frozen h20
and i'd melt into a puddle then drift back home as smoke
home is where the heart is
and the heart is a powerful device

but you can never go home again
no matter where your heart has been
you can never go home again
much to my chagrin
you can never go home again
Track Name: Smoke Signals
you build a house brick by brick
then you knock it down
you drain the lake drop by drop
so that you won't drown
if you're overwhelmed, then you're paying attention
but if you're concerned with higher ascension
then you'll miss your stop on the last train out
the temperature drop when winter comes
the fire followed by angry shouts
the smoke signals and distant drums
the end, the end, the end
has come

when you set out you dream of land
for gin and distant and totally new
two weeks in and you wish you had
a place of your own made just for you
when the sails are furled and you step ashore
you won't hear the waves at night anymore
and you'll miss the sound of metal on madst
the kiss of the stars when the morning comes
the speed with which the days fly past
the smoke signals and the distant drums
the end

you dig a hole earth by earth
then you fill it in
you did it for yourself whatever that's worth
and you'd do it again
you'd dig all the way to the moon and back
you'd dig right through a heart attack
and you'll keep digging till the shovel gives way
back to the beginning with the whispered hums
you'd put yourself up on display
with the smoke signals and the distant drums